Species Profile

Peacock Vinyl Lichen

Scientific Name: Leptogium polycarpum
Taxonomy Group: Lichens
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2011
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Peacock Vinyl Lichen

Description

The Peacock Vinyl Lichen (Leptogium polycarpum) is a distinctive tree-dwelling “jellyskin” lichen characterized by leafy lobes that are medium-sized lobes and have a dark bluish upper surface bearing numerous button-like fruit bodies containing sexual spores termed ascospores. The production of four spores per ascus is unusual for this genus in which eight is the normal number. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Distribution and Population

The Peacock Vinyl Lichen is endemic to western North America, where it occurs from northern California (40°N) northward to southern British Columbia (51°N) in summer-dry coastal regions. There is one outlying population (52°N) at Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Habitat

In Canada, the Peacock Vinyl Lichen occurs at low elevations on the branches and (mossy) trunks of deciduous trees, particularly Bigleaf Maple and Red Alder, in rather well-lit, mid-successional stands. At most locations its host trees are rooted in nutrient-rich soils derived from marine sediments deposited during the Pleistocene. Generally, the Peacock Vinyl Lichen grows on epiphytic moss mats which appear to promote its establishment and maintenance. At two locations, it colonizes trees near the spray of waterfalls from which it seems to benefit. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Biology

Sexual reproduction in the Peacock Vinyl Lichen depends upon on the production and dissemination of fungal spores from the lichen fruit body. This means there is a requirement for thallus resynthesis at each generation which presumably accounts for the sporadic distribution of this lichen. As a “jellyskin” lichen, in which the photopartner is a cyanobacterium, the Peacock Vinyl Lichen is further restricted by the requirement for the tree bark on which it grows to be base-rich. Only a few trees appear to satisfy this requirement in coastal B.C., where bark is leached by the heavy winter rains. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Threats

This lichen grows most commonly in association with Bigleaf Maple and in woodlands, which include at least 5% maples, and which are in the narrow, low-elevation coastal strips. This includes the lower Fraser Valley where there has been a decline in lichen diversity over the past 20 years with the replacement of rare lichens, including cyanolichens, by a flora that is typical of nutrient-rich habitats. The likely causes are nitrogenous aerosols from intensive pig and poultry operations as well as some air pollution from the city of Vancouver. Seven of the 13 locations for the Peacock Vinyl Lichen are on Crown land and so could be vulnerable to habitat loss as a result of forestry or other human activity. Forest-dwelling lichens like the Peacock Vinyl Lichen are subject to stochastic events leading to habitat loss over a large areas. These events include wildfires, insect attacks or storms. As the Peacock Vinyl Lichen has only been found to date on 67 trees in 13 locations, stochastic events can have a serious effect on the population. The principal threat to the Peacock Vinyl Lichen, in the medium to long term, is increased seasonal drought due to climate change. This could result in additional stress to this lichen, which requires humidity and liquid water for photosynthesis, growth and reproduction. Stress can reduce the frequency of resynthesis and establishment of the lichen and could cause a rapid decline in its abundance. (Updated 2017/08/11)

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Protection

Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

7 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Peacock Vinyl Lichen Leptogium polycarpum in Canada (2011)

    The Peacock Vinyl Lichen (Leptogium polycarpum) is a distinctive tree-dwelling “jellyskin” lichen characterized by leafy lobes that are medium-sized lobes and have a dark bluish upper surface bearing numerous button-like fruit bodies containing sexual spores termed ascospores. The production of four spores per ascus is unusual for this genus in which eight is the normal number.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Peacock Vinyl Lichen (2011)

    This jellyskin lichen, endemic to western North America, reaches the limit of its northern distribution in Canada where it is known from only 13 locations in the coastal forests of south western British Columbia with one isolated location in Haida Gwaii. This lichen grows on deciduous trees, especially Bigleaf Maple and Red Alder. Almost 1000 individuals of this lichen are known but confined to only 67 trees. In addition to stochastic events, threats to this sensitive lichen include air pollution from industrial and agricultural activities, forestry and associated infrastructure as well as seasonal drought due to climate change.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site meets the requirements for an action plan set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA (s.47)) for species requiring an action plan that occur inside the boundary of the site. This action plan will be updated to more comprehensively include measures to conserve and recover the marine species at risk once the first integrated Land, Sea, People management plan for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve & Haida Heritage Site (hereafter called Gwaii Haanas) is complete. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in Gwaii Haanas.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2016)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of the Species at Risk Act, makes the annexed Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2011 (2011)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 8, 2012 for species undergoing normal consultations and by November 8, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.